You’ve probably come across the idea that you’ll never truly feel fulfilled in your career unless you’re doing something you’re passionate about. While that may or may not be true—it’s entirely possible to pursue your passion in a second job or side hustle as opposed to your primary job—finding your passion is something that’s important. When you’re engaged in your passion in some way, you typically feel more fulfilled. However, it can be hard to find your passion. So, to help you on your passion search, here are four essential steps you’ll need to take.
Step 1: Determine Your Interests
Your interests and hobbies are what keep you engaged during your free time. These are part of your identity and what you enjoy doing the most. You might even dedicate several hours a day to your interests and hobbies. So, the first step to finding your passion is to look toward your interests and hobbies—maybe even starting with those you’ve put on your resume. Another way to find your interests is to reminisce about your childhood. What captured your imagination the most back then? Was it astronauts and space? Soccer? Swimming? Graphic novels? Comic books? Fashion? Painting? A certain genre of movie? Reminiscing can help reignite your interests—and ultimately help you find your passion.
Step 2: Determine Your Talents
Your interests and talents are two separate things. What you're interested in doesn't mean you have talent in it. But the good news is chances are you have a talent in at least one thing that overlaps with your interests. So, start by making a list of all the things you're naturally good at, and don't limit yourself to only hard skills (such as drawing, writing, swimming, photography, woodworking, etc.)—soft skills (like leadership, communication, and problem-solving) are essential to making it in any field of work. Maybe try to add hard skills on one side of your list, and fill the other side with soft skills. And write down anything that comes to mind, however small or minor you might think it is at the moment.
Step 3: Find the Right Combination
Now it’s time to take a long and hard look at the lists you’ve created. You’ll need to identify the right mixture of hard and soft skills that blend with your interests. The best way to approach the task is to ask yourself a simple question: “What am I good at that matches my interests?” And keep looking at your lists while circling back to this question. In fact, answering the question becomes your goal. Remember that you need to find your passion, not change the world. You want to be happy, not find the answer to the meaning of life.
Step 4: Avoid Negative Thinking
One common hurdle to finding your passion is negative thinking. Negative thinking replaces clarity with obscurity. Say you’ve found the right combination of interests and talents: space exploration and writing. As a result, you decide you want to start a space blog. But the first thing that comes to mind is you’ll probably fail—you think your blog won’t be any good, no one will read it, it will be too hard to start, etc. This is a textbook example of negative thinking. Do your best not to fall prey to it, pushing any negative thoughts out of your mind. The truth is you can’t know the outcome of your plan until you put it into action. While it’s okay if negative thoughts arise—that can be quite common—remember that you don’t have to listen to them.
Erik Bergman cofounded Catena Media and helped grow it to over 300 employees and a $200 million valuation before stepping away to start Great.com, an iGaming organization that donates 100 percent of its profits to environmental charities. In addition to running a successful online affiliate business, Erik hosts the Becoming Great podcast, shares entrepreneurship tips with his more than 1 million social media followers, and contributes to sites like Entrepreneuer.com, Business Insider, Foundr, and Forbes.
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